by John Unrein
It is not a normal occurrence when varsity starters get pulled from the game with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. Thus was the case for the Grain Valley Lady Eagles head basketball coach Randy Draper. The accelerator was left on the floorboard by Draper’s team during the first three quarters of action. The result was Grain Valley leading by 31 points at the end of the third quarter in route to a 55-16 victory over the Belton Pirates on February 22nd.
Belton had a few members of their varsity roster unavailable, including scoring dynamo Kyndal Lewis that put up 18 points for her team during their last matchup with Grain Valley in December. Belton Pirate head basketball coach Brad Batchelder remained true to his heavy pick and roll offense. Guard Kennedy Moss substituted in the role at the top of the point and was fruitful in her efforts by producing 9 points as her team’s leading scorer.
Draper deployed a man to man defense in stopping the Pirates offense. Grain Valley would continue to send the screened defender under the pick, while having the free defender go to the open high side of the lane in denying further options. Draper’s defensive steering produced results. The Lady Eagles delivered 10 steals, 30 rebounds, and 13 assists as a team.
Grain Valley was consistent in poking out the basketball when presented and stepping in front of passes to hasten the transition game going the other way. Draper’s squad continues to play more comfortably at a fast pace in keeping their eyes up as they progress down the floor with unselfish passing leading to easier scoring opportunities. Something that has been pushed by Draper in practice.
“Our defense did their job early on and permitted us to produce a scoring gap with the lead. We did get away with a couple of blown assignments on defense that we will definitely shore up,” Draper said.
“I like how we played tonight. There’s a right way to play regardless (of your opponents’ status). It doesn’t matter. They (Belton) were missing a heck of a player tonight. We know that and sometimes that gets a team in trouble. You have to respect the game and play hard because every opponent deserves it.”
Draper continued, “I thought we shared the ball well tonight. Our pace is so much better than it was earlier in the season. That makes the game much more fun to watch.”
“Getting to provide rest to your varsity players allows opportunity for others. It also avoids the risk of injury as you head towards district play. We got work done tonight without exhausting our kids.”
Draper finished, “The way we are playing right now makes it harder for teams to sit on Grace (Slaughter). Sprinting and sharing the ball with this pace of play, it’s fun, so let’s go.”
Grace Slaughter produced a double-double as the game’s leading scorer with 30 points. The sophomore point guard’s stat line would also include 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal. Slaughter made it difficult for defenders guarding her to pick a side to favor. The ability to be ambidextrous while dribbling and shooting gives Slaughter an advantage she continues to capitalize on as she reads defenses.
Joining Slaughter as a strong supporting cast member in the Lady Eagles victory was Jordyn Weems. The senior would produce 5 points, 2 steals, and 2 assists. Weems was not shy about limiting the space she provided to her opponent. Growth for Weems is also apparent during transition as her confidence in where she places the basketball with her passing taxes the defense.
“I am so proud of us. We talked after the game about where we are now with our pace of play. It pays off to run down the court before your opponent can set up their defense and the scoring opportunities that leads to. We are also executing (our offense) better when teams do get back and set up defensively. I still think we have room to improve defensively and continuing to get feistier when blocking out,” Slaughter said.
Weems added, “I just focus on getting going defensively as soon as we get out there. I know that if we do that, we won’t stop. It builds our intensity and that makes us hard to stop.”
“I am too much on my toes at times (defensively) and I suppose that gets me in trouble. I anticipate where the ball is going to be, and I go get it.”
Grain Valley (12-6) will open the Class 6 District 14 Tournament on February 27th against Lee’s Summit North.
Senior Jordyn Weems works on defense to deny her opponent space.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
Sophomore Grace Slaughter drains a three point shot attempt.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
by John Unrein
A jubilant Eagles bench ran onto the court to celebrate after the final seconds ticked off the clock. Senior Cole Keller blocked the final shot of the game for his team with four fouls and against a full court shot attempt that would have sent the shooter to the line for three shots, with Grain Valley clinging to a two point lead. Keller and Jayden Yung yelled and flexed their arms with big smiles on their face at the conclusion of the game.
The Grain Valley boys basketball team under the direction of head coach Andy Herbert had just finalized a big Suburban Conference win against the Truman Patriots by a score of 53-51 on February 20th. The joy continued off the court as the Eagles could be heard celebrating inside a classroom outside of the gymnasium at Truman High School.
The win was extremely rewarding for Herbert, who felt a wealth of emotions run through him as the buzzer sounded at the end of the contest. Fundamentals, situations, and how to win by finishing basketball games has been consistently taught in practice and learned on the court during varsity games this season for the young Eagles. A resilient roster with only three seniors has accepted coaching and has applied lessons learned to become a formidable opponent as the Class 6 District 14 Tournament approaches on February 27th.
Making the memory of the victory that much more cherished by Grain Valley is that they played two games within 24 hours of each other. The Eagles had lost the night before to William Chrisman by only two points.
The sting of a game they had led for three quarters prior to seeing it slip away at the end would test the mettle of Grain Valley as they traveled back to Independence with limited rest. Tired legs did not become apparent for the Eagles until the third quarter when they found enough in the proverbial tank to push through to be on the winning end of a two point victory this time around.
“I’ve never had the emotion run through me that I did when the buzzer went off tonight. I don’t know why other than I’m proud of our toughness. We responded with grit to the late game pressure to come out ahead,” Herbert said.
“If you rewind back to our early games this season and how far away we were, we were not close to playing like this tonight. You cannot ask any more out of a group of kids to do more than they did this week.”
Herbert continued, “Cole (Keller) is a warrior. There has to be a better word for it, but I don’t know what it is. The relentless way he played tonight is special. He’s played close to 96 straight minutes in three days. It is not a normal 96 minutes either, as Cole has endured people hanging on him. The role of shot blocker, rebounder, helping us beat the press, and don’t forget scorer has been fulfilled by him.”
Keller would finish with 23 points, 9 rebounds, a steal, and 3 blocks. Joining Keller’s stellar effort were guards Yung and Owen Herbert. Yung’s stat line included 8 points, a rebound, 5 assists, and 2 steals. Yung was a difference maker down the stretch as he blew past defenders on double on ball screens set by Keller and Herbert at the top of the lane. Yung’s ability to keep his shoulders square as he approached the basket on drives produced solid scoring opportunities.
Herbert found his typical comfort zone behind the arc in draining a quartet of three pointers. Grain Valley looked inside out during the third quarter with the attention that Keller was drawing in the post. Herbert was the recipient of opportunity and he delivered. His favorite shooting spot on the court continues to be a 45 degree angle away from the basket on either side of the goal.
“I have seen too many YouTube videos of people throwing up shots like the last one of our game and making it. I was not going to take that chance and attempted the block. It worked out and we won the game,” Keller said.
“I wanted to develop a presence in the post during this game so that we could get Owen (Herbert) going outside and support Jayden (Yung) on the drive. This win was night and day difference from where we were at the beginning of the season. Heck yeah, I am proud of the grit we showed.”
Yung added, “This is my first year playing point guard. I have always been a wing. Truman played tight on us with the ball pressure they showed. Coach (Herbert) calling for the double high ball screen gave me room to maneuver and get to the basket.”
“This feels great. Having played this many days in a row means a lot to come out of here with a win against a good team like Truman.”
(Owen) Herbert finished, “Cole in the post draws significant attention. The shots I made tonight are the same ones I attempt with our machine in practice. It gets me ready for the inside out ball movement we executed on the court.”
“This team refused to let three games in a row on consecutive days against Suburban Conference teams be an excuse of any kind.”
The Patriots themselves produced two double digit scorers. Najee Williams and Maddux Bristow each racked up 14 points in the loss. The athleticism and confidence displayed by Williams and Bristow continues to highlight why they have been a force in pushing Truman to a 17-6 record under the leadership of head coach Rod Briggs.
Grain Valley moves to 7-13 with contests looming against Belton and Odessa prior to the Class 6 District 14 Tournament starting on February 27th.
Left to right: Senior Jayden Yung, Senior Cole Keller, and Sophomore Owen Herbert.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
Senior forward Cole Keller attempts a free throw. Photo credit: Valley News staff
Sophomore guard Owen Herbert drains a three pointer along the baseline.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Lady Eagles held the basketball after passing midcourt with 45 seconds left in the game. Head basketball coach Randy Draper’s squad had led the contest from start to finish. However, they had overcome foul trouble, an athletic Truman Patriots squad, and successfully sank enough free throws to secure a 59-41 victory over a Suburban Conference foe on February 20th.
The Lady Eagles had edged out a tight victory by a score of 48-45 over the Patriots back on December 17th. The increased margin of victory reflects the growth that Draper’s young team continues to display as the season progresses. The excitement was apparent in the tone of Draper’s voice standing outside the gym at Truman High School.
“Grace (Slaughter) is not your typical sophomore. We talked after the game and her fourth foul is a foul she cannot get. Slaughter was mature in how she approached the game once she went back in during the fourth quarter,” Draper said.
“We had a lot of kids help us and that was fun. (Cameryn) Bown had a good night. (Finley) LaForge has really changed us in how she is shooting the basketball. It is good to see that as those two work hard at this and take a lot of extra shots in the gym.”
Draper continued, “There is nothing like playing to get you used to the pace of varsity basketball. When you are open and not open. Kids learn to anticipate what to do before they catch the basketball. You figure out you have to be ready once you catch the basketball or it ain’t getting off against athletic teams.”
“With Grace getting so much attention defensively, it buys her teammates a little extra time as a shooter. I like the direction we are headed. We stayed true to our defensive rules against the athleticism we faced. Most of the time it turned out well for us.”
Truman had a trio of scorers in guards Urya’ Williams, Taliyah Scott, and Layla Scott that effectively used the “five out” offensive set under the direction of Patriots head coach Jim Page to find isolation matchups in driving to the basket. The result was Williams finishing with 11 points, Taliyah Scott with 14 points, and Layla Scott with 13 points.
Grain Valley would counter with a double-double from Slaughter who had 22 points to go along with her 11 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 steals. LaForge would chip in a trio of three pointers and a made free throw for a total of 10 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists. Bown was also active on the perimeter in scoring 10 points as well to go with a rebound, an assist, and 2 steals.
The Lady Eagles would go 16 from 22 from the charity stripe during the game. The 72.7 percent average from the free throw line was an influencing factor in putting the game out of reach for Truman as the second half wound down. Slaughter, Bown, and Jordyn Weems would all effectively manage the four fouls they accumulated. LaForge and forward Ella Clyman did the same as they found themselves with three fouls each in the final quarter as well.
More importantly, Grain Valley had an answer offensively each time Truman cut into their lead. Freshman McKenah Sears took a charge under the Patriot basket with 6:55 remaining in the second quarter that led to her team scoring on the other end and widening her team’s five point margin. Truman would cut Grain Valley’s lead to 3 points by a score of 30-27 with 5:29 left in the third quarter after a made three pointer by Williams. LaForge and Bown would both answer back with made shots from behind the arc in subsequent possessions by the Lady Eagles, expanding Grain Valley’s lead to 36-27.
“This was a great team win. We knew it would take our best effort. I made sure to do my part. The speed of the game has slowed down for me,” Bown said.
LaForge added, “We expected them (Truman) to play with passion because we barely won the last time we faced them. It was tight and we watched a lot of film to prepare. The release on my outside shot is getting quicker and that is awesome as it gives me more time, even if I am not as open. I am happy when we can take pressure off Grace as a scorer.”
Slaughter finished, “Going into the third quarter I only had one foul. I was attentive on the bench in watching the game once I picked up my fourth foul. That made me realize that I needed to play off of my opponent more. It let me be calm when I went back onto the floor.”
“We executed some things well today that we had been working on in practice against the spread out zone that Truman played. It allowed us to get Cameryn (Bown) and Finley (LaForge) open from the outside. That permits for the post to be less congested and we can start feeding the ball back inside. We played to our potential tonight.”
Grain Valley (11-6) embarks on a busy stretch of their schedule as they are set to play Belton and Raytown next prior to the opening of the Class 6, District 14 Tournament on February 27th.
Sophomore guard Cameryn Bown makes a free throw.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
Sophomore Grace Slaughter wins the opening tip off of the basketball game.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Eagles boys basketball team maintained a lead for three quarters against the William Chrisman Bears on February 19th before the game slipped away in the final quarter. Junior guard Dayne Herl produced the game winning layup for the Bears with 4 seconds remaining in the game. The final score of 57-55, with William Chrisman coming out on top was hard to accept for Grain Valley due to their spirited effort.
Both teams are familiar with the other being in the same conference and having played each other previously in February. That led to frequent coaching adjustments by Grain Valley Eagles head coach Andy Herbert and William Chrisman Bears head coach Jack Kates during the game. The strategy deployed from both benches made the game fun to watch and nerve racking for those competing.
Grain Valley’s first quarter lead was the result of point guard Jayden Yung identifying forward Cole Keller in the post and making accurate entry passes that afforded Keller the opportunity to turn and score. Kates maneuvered his offense during the 2nd quarter to start attacking the lane from the top of the key with Herl and senior guard Anthony Watkins. The result was the Bears narrowing the Eagles lead to 3 points by a score of 29-26 at halftime.
Herbert would respond at the start of the second half by inserting sophomore guard Keagan Hart into the Eagles lineup to defensively shadow the perimeter play of Herl and Watkins. Grain Valley would also start to kick the ball inside out in allowing sophomore guard Owen Herbert to hit a trio of three pointers in the contest.
Keller would contribute 23 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, and 1 steal as the Eagles leading scorer. Yung would add 11 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists. The feisty effort was not enough for the Eagles to secure victory as they were outscored by the Bears 15-9 in the fourth quarter.
“I have confidence in my feet and being able to protect against the drive, especially knowing that I have help in our defense. Playing junior varsity minutes gets me primed to be called on when I am asked to check someone by Coach (Herbert),” Hart said.
Keller added, “We played a more complete game then the last time we played them (William Chrisman). At the same time, it is unfortunate when things don’t fall your way. They played a hell of a game and made some shots when they needed to and that is how the chips fell.”
Keller continues to encounter physical post play from the opposition. Teams are transfixed on taking away the Eagles frontcourt scoring option and willing to burn fouls and push the limits of aggressive play. Keller has responded with maturity beyond his years to maintain composure and not backing down from what is presented. A trait admired by his head coach.
“We played hard tonight. Our opponent made tough shots. Defensively, we were not good enough in certain situations. They (William Chrisman) spread the floor and took advantage of that as the game progressed. Guarding the ball is the hardest thing to do in this game,” Herbert said.
“Cole (Keller) does not back down from anyone and the physical play he faces. The first half Cole did not miss a shot and ended up with 23 points. That tells all you need to know about the type of competitor he is.”
The fourth quarter witnessed five lead changes or ties. The pace was frantic as Yung, Herbert, and Hart all hit big shots or free throws for their team. William Chrisman’s execution in the final minutes proved to be the difference in the game. Grain Valley (6-13) faces a hectic week of their schedule as they approach the end of February basketball. The Eagles are scheduled to face Truman, Belton, and Odessa prior to Class 4, District 14 Tournament starting on February 27th.
Senior guard Jayden Yung successfully drive the lane to score a layup.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
Senior forward Cole Keller pivots in the low post to score a basket.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
Recognizing a need for therapy services in the area, and a desire to invest in the community, Grain Valley resident Melissa Winston opened 510 Counseling Group at 1406 Eagles Parkway in January.
“All of our team members have specialization in working with teens and families. It was a perfect space to be right near the alternative school and the high school. It worked out that this is an ideal space to connect with the community,” Winston said.
Prior to opening her own practice, Winston worked with a nonprofit organization providing direct instruction on healthy relationships to high school health classes. The program opened up a text line for students to text in questions, and Winston, as the trained therapist, answered those questions.
“We got thousands of questions, and heard a lot of heartbreak. You work with kids and deal with their big issues, and I just thought, ‘I want to help at a higher level’,” Winston said.
Winston returned to school while continuing work at the community level, deciding to focus on the micro level, helping families on an individual basis.
Winston stresses therapy is a helpful tool in all stages of life, but the need has increased for everyone due to the stress the pandemic has caused on daily life.
In the lives of teens, the pandemic has intensified issues therapists often see with patients.
“We’re seeing a lot of loneliness and isolation. A lot of conflict with parents over technology, because it is their one way to connect with friends. We also see problems with issues such as video game addiction and self harm,” Winston said.
“We are seeing a lot of kids who would normally be very successful. Kids who are used to being successful in sports, who are used to being successful in the classroom, are really struggling because they just don’t have their coping strategies accessible to them.”
“I think that’s been the case for everyone to a certain degree. You know, I can’t go to the gym, and I can’t talk to people and hang out with my friends. With teens, this turns into trouble managing their emotions, and trouble talking about it.”
“A constant theme I hear is ‘I know my situation is not nearly as bad as XYZ’, and they feel bad for feeling the way they feel. So, we just do a lot of giving people space to feel whatever they are feeling and just talk about it.”
Winston said everyone can benefit from recognizing the trauma we have all faced over the past year and honestly reflecting and talking about it.
“Even though we may have had the best case scenario—no loss of job, no one in your family becoming ill—still as a community, we have experienced collective trauma. Life as we know it is not the same. The uncertainty of the future is looming for everyone. So, I think we have to acknowledge what has happened physically in our bodies..”
“When we don’t feel safe that we can leave our homes, that we are going to get a paycheck, that if my kiddo gets a cold it could be COVID and I may lose them, we don’t feel that sense of safety and we lose a sense of control, our bodies start to live in this heightened state where our nervous systems are on edge. It makes us more irritable, more impatient, and gives us less ability to make good decisions.”
“I really encourage people to take some inventory of where you are. Be honest with yourself, process it and talk about it. When we do that and start to change our pattern of self-care, it can really help.”
“We are not okay alone. As people, we don’t do well alone for long. So, that is why it is so important to find creative ways to engage and seek help when we feel we need it.”
Winston says if it is not possible to connect in person, connecting by phone or via apps like Snapchat can be fun for adults as well as kids.
Janelle DeBlock, MA, LPC, does a lot of work with younger children in her practice and sees the impact of the past year on younger patients as well. While younger children are experiencing the same stresses and disruptions to their lives, DeBlock sees hope in how they cope.
I’m actually impressed with how younger kids are aware and understand the situation we are all facing. This whole generation of kiddos have the intelligence and understanding of how our behaviors individually impact the community,” DeBlock said.
510 Counseling Group does not accept insurance, but staff works with clients to provide documentation needed to request reimbursement from insurers, and offers a sliding scale for Grain Valley students.
510 Counseling Group can be reached online at www.510counseling.com and by phone at (816) 443-5279.
by John Unrein
The forecast for Grain Valley on February 17th was a high of 21 degrees with a chance of snow. In stark contrast was the sunny skies and 66 degree forecasted temperature in Surprise, Arizona. The latter is the spring training home of the Kansas City Royals. February 17th was the first day pitchers and catchers are eligible to report for the Royals in Surprise. The first full team squad workout is scheduled for February 22nd.
Familiar faces remain for the Royals as they head to Arizona. Danny Duffy and Salvador Perez are both set to begin their 10th season with the team that signed and developed them. Both are also entering the final year of their contracts, otherwise known as the “walk year” in baseball terminology. Designated hitter Jorge Soler is also in the same boat and is scheduled to be paid $8 million in the final year of the deal he originally inked with the Chicago Cubs.
Joining Duffy, Perez, and other long term Royals such as Whit Merrifield, who enters his 6th season with the team will be new faces like first baseman Carlos Santana, left fielder Andrew Benintendi, center fielder Michael Taylor, and the return of veteran southpaw Mike Minor, who was previously with the club in 2017.
The Royals only have a few spots open for competition during Spring Training as they return an established team that David Adler of MLB.com suggests will be one of the seven teams that are going to better than people think. General Manager Dayton Moore has also gone on record saying he expects the Royals to be competitive within the American League Central Division this season.
The Major League Baseball Players Association has rejected the MLB proposal to delay the start of the 2021 season due to COVID-19 concerns. Instead, the players union is advocating for a full 162 game season that begins on time. That means the Royals first spring training game is still scheduled to be played at 2:05pm CST on February 28th against the Texas Rangers.
The start of baseball can be a smorgasbord of memories and eagerness for fans. Some will look forward to the unmistakable smells of popcorn and hotdogs in the brisk spring air. Others will debate if they can sing “Take me out to the ballgame” better than the late longtime Cubs broadcaster Harry Carey. And no doubt some will ignore statistical probability and still bring their glove to the game and wear it an effort to be prepared for the inevitable foul ball they expect to be hit their way and catch. If all else fails, a continued generation of fathers and their children who struggle to find common things to talk about will banter back and forth about baseball.
Grain Valley Eagles head baseball coach Brian Driskell has his own reason he looks forward to the start of professional baseball. Driskell witnessed the 2020 high school baseball season erased due to COVID-19. The Eagles were 19-11 the last time they took the field as a team in 2019. Grain Valley News recently discussed baseball related topics with Driskell, including what he looks forward to the most and what he has missed about the sport.
“The anticipation of a new season and the excitement around it is special. There is a reason why places like the ‘K’ (Kauffman Stadium) sell out on opening day. It is a like a New Year’s resolution in that you are starting again with hope,” Driskell said.
“I also miss the day to day of practice and hanging out with the boys and the memories created. I do enjoy my time away from the game as well. Coaching my son’s team during the offseason is rewarding. I get in modes when I am drowning in baseball. My family and I try to make the months of July and August our time away from professional responsibilities.”
One of the keys to the 2021 season that will be paramount to the success of the Kansas City Royals is the continued growth of their young pitching. Three-fifths of the Royals starting rotation will be under the age of 25. Brad Keller is 24, Brady Singer is 23, and Kris Bubic is 22. Southpaw starters Danny Duffy and Mike Minor are set to be the crafty elder statesmen of the rotation at 31 and 33 years of age, respectively.
The Royals finished the shortened 60 game 2020 season with a team Earned Run Average (ERA) of 4.30 and an average of 9 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, while giving up 1.375 walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP). Those numbers compare favorably to the Royals World Series appearances of 2014 and 2015. This revelation should continue to fuel the optimism of the organization for the upcoming season. Having top pitching prospects such as Asa Lacy, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, and Carlos Hernandez approaching the status of being “major league ready” as they polish their skills does not hurt either.
Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn once said, “hitting is timing, pitching is upsetting timing.” One of the age old debates around America’s pastime is the effectiveness of pitching inside and when to do it in the hitter’s at-bat. The risk and reward involved is upsetting the hitter’s comfort level versus possibly giving the batter first base or worse if they take exception to being plunked.
Driskell shared his thoughts on the decision of pitching inside and its worth.
“I read a piece the other day on Trevor Bauer and him attacking guys away late in the count. The ability to pitch inside give you an advantage. Anthony Rizzo stands close to the plate and his hands hover over the inner half of the plate saying if you can hit the inner half of the plate three times, then I will tip my hat to you,” Driskell said.
“If you miss in, you hit them, of if you miss away then you give the batter a hittable pitch. Showing a hitter that you have the confidence to pitch inside and disrupt a hitters timing or thinking gets into the head of the person at the plate and may mess with their confidence. This gives a possible advantage to the pitcher.”
The Royals are also heading to spring training with a limited number of proven lefties in their bullpen. Typically, managers like to have the availability to call on southpaws for favorable lefty to lefty (pitcher to hitter) matchups as the game unfolds. Royals General Manager Dayton Moore and Manager Mike Matheny have elaborated that they are less concerned with traditional thinking in that manner and more concerned about what statistics and advance metrics show in relation to a pitcher’s ability to get a batter out from either side of the plate.
Control, the arsenal contained by a pitcher, and the recent streak that pitcher has been on during relief appearances is the approach Driskell believes matters the most.
“The matchup scenario depends on the lefty you have in the bullpen. I was a sidearm change up and sinker pitcher in college and pitched better to lefties than I did to a right hander. Someone like Max Scherzer has the stuff to get a batter out regardless of what side of the plate he hits on,” Driskell said.
“Control matters as well. What streak the pitcher and current batter at the plate has been on, that is important to consider as well. I like getting the best guy on the mound.”
Offensively, the Royals have focused this offseason on adding bats to the lineup that have good eye discipline in relation to the strike zone and strong on-base percentage. The Moneyball adage that it is hard to score runs if you cannot get on base and runs lead to wins. Enter the acquisitions of first baseman Carlos Santana and left fielder Andrew Benintendi.
Santana led the American League in walks with 47 during the shortened 2020 season as well as boasting a healthy .349 on-base percentage. Benintendi posted a .359 on-base percentage last season and has been at .350 for OBP four out of his six seasons at the major league level.
Moore and Matheny have both spoken highly of the team’s newest acquisitions.
“We have admired Carlos for a long time within this division. We have watched him develop and mature into a productive hitter, a winning-type player. Very grateful he can be part of our organization. He fits in extremely well with our lineup and our players,” Moore said.
Matheny added in relation to Benintendi, “Sweet swing. Trying to watch his swing through a scout’s eye, you see this guy had a real nice idea of plate awareness. He just didn’t have a lot of swing and miss.”
Driskell views on-base percentage at the high school level for the Eagles more about the hitter’s place in the lineup and the approach used at the plate, especially dependent on the count.
“Top of the lineup guys, I pay attention to on-base percentage. How hitters at the bottom of the lineup hit and attack may be different. We want to get a ‘quality at-bat.’ We use a computer program called ‘GameChanger’ to track that at the high school level,” Driskell said.
“Is the pitcher working ahead? Consider that in your approach at the plate. Our preference is not to swing at breaking balls. I have a chart of different MLB averages matched to pitch count. The 1-1 count is a big tipping in which way the at-bat goes based on what the pitcher and hitter does next.”
Baseball is upon us. With it comes the age old renewal of hope and endless conversation about strategy that makes the sport so great.
With students at home learning virtually and several businesses closed due to this week’s winter weather, many residents are able to stay in and watch the snow and mercury fall from the comfort of their homes. Not so for the ten employees who make up the Grain Valley Public Works department.
On Sunday, February 14th, Public Works Team A worked a 12-hour shift, applying a salt treatment and then plowing snow.
During the day on the 14th, a water main break occurred on Old 40 Highway which required other Public Works staff to be called in to repair the water line.
On Monday, February 15th, Public Works Team B worked a shift plowing snow and treating streets. The work continued Tuesday, February 16th and Wednesday, February 17th, as snow continued to fall.
Crews responded to a second water main break on Tuesday, February 16th on McQuerry Road.
Over the last three days, the Public Works staff repaired 40 frozen residential water meters.
Reached for comment on the recent work by the department, Community Development Director Mark Trosen was quick to praise the work of the City employees.
“The Public Works staff goes above and beyond each day to serve our community but over the last three days due to frigid cold temperatures and snow conditions, that call to service has intensified. Public Works only consist of 10 employees that have worked tirelessly these last few days to ensure that residents have water in their homes and safe streets to drive on,” Trosen said.
Work on water mains and residential meters continue as problems arise, and the road crews continue efforts to keep the streets clear.
“Grain Valley is divided into three snow districts, for operational purposes, with each district assigned a minimum of one truck. Streets in each district are classified as Priority One/ Emergency Snow Routes (arterial streets), Priority Two (collectors), and Priority Three (residential and cul-de-sacs). Priority one streets are the first streets to receive attention,” Trosen explained.
“Whenever the Priority One streets are deemed safe for travel during or after a snowfall, the City’s plow trucks begin operations on the Priority Two streets while maintaining Priority One streets. After these streets are completed, trucks will move to Priority Three, or residential streets and cul-de-sacs. If during plowing operations on Priority Two or Three streets it begins to snow again and priority one streets become dangerous, trucks will be dispatched back to these streets as needed.”
Public Works crew members are divided into A and B team rotations, rotating weekly to be the first responders. Each team consists of 3 drivers, 1 crew leader and 1 dispatcher per 12-hour shift. The crew leader can salt and plow complaint areas or fill in for a driver that may become ill during shift.
Contact Public Works if water is not functioning in your entire home. This may indicate a frozen water meter. They can be called at 816-847-0091, or 816-990-1990 after hours.
The week of February 15th is National Random Acts of Kindness Week, and we’ve been chatting on social media with residents about the kind acts that have touched their lives. We’ve received several messages and nominations, many from folks who wish their kind deeds to remain anonymous.
This makes it tough for us as story writers, but we appreciate the quiet way so many in our community go about showing kindness to those in need. Grain Valley Police Chief James Beale reflected on the many acts of kindness his department has received.
“I think the best act of kindness displayed this past year has been the overall support that the Police Department has received from the community. The community support provided mental nutrition to our minds,” Beale said.
Jerry Vaughan, board member with the Grain Valley Assistance Council (GVAC), shared there was an opportunity for the community to spread kindness to those in need through food donations for the Counci’s pantry. For a full list of needed items, please see below. Food items can be dropped off in the GVAC collection barrel, located just inside the entrance at the Grain Valley Community Center, any time during regular Community Center hours.
Join the conversation online on Facebook (@grainvalleynews).
Assistance Council Pantry Needs
In addition to the regular food items, the Grain Valley Assistance Council pantry is running low on several items, including pancake mix, syrup, jelly and spaghetti.
Also needed are the following:
mac & cheese, canned corn, rice or pasta side dishes, spaghetti-o's or canned ravioli, canned tomatoes or tomato sauce, pork & beans, and boxed dinners (hamburger helper style).
Food donations can be dropped off in the GVAC collection barrel, located just inside the entrance at the Grain Valley Community Center, any time during the regular Community Center hours.
After brutal cold weather caused schools and businesses to close, headaches with frozen pipes, water main breaks, and dangerous travel conditions the week of February 15th, the National Weather Service Kansas City projects high temperatures in the upper 40s to 50s by early next week.
While the area welcomes the rise in temps, a downward trend in COVID-19 cases is welcome news as well.
According to data from Missouri’s Show Me Strong Recovery plan website, as of February 16th, cases are down 50.1% and deaths down 28.6% compared to the prior seven days in Jackson County. The past seven days, the County has reported 241 positive cases and 5 deaths.
Officials stress mask wearing, social distancing, regular hand washing, and monitoring of symptoms are still critical steps to continuing the downward trend.
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
During the 1980s, the good citizens of Grain Valley depended on area papers for their news. Often you would find Grain Valley stories in the Buckner Villager or the Oak Grove Banner. The Central and North Kansas City Star was a weekly insert in The Kansas City Star. It was during the late 1980s that the Independence Examiner seemed to expand their coverage to include more news from Eastern Jackson County.
For a year, possibly two years, around 1986 the Valley News was published in our community. I have not been able to learn very much about this newspaper. I contacted a few people to gather information; only one remembered the paper, others did not. I was only able to learn that the owner/publisher was Richard J. and Becky A. Rippe. I found an address on Vesper in Blue Springs. They were only married a few years from 1982 to about 1988. I believe the paper may have ended with the marriage.
Among all of the papers from the 1980s, the stories all shared one central theme –the growth of Grain Valley. The real estate section in the want ads featured many new homes and acres of land for sale all around the town.
If you lived in Grain Valley in the 1980s you may remember some of these stories.
After a petition by a group of citizens, home mail delivery increased by 117 new locations.
After the death of Ken Ramsey, Valley Fair Daze chairman, an attempt was made to build a horse show arena south of town.
A flying club was established at the East Kansas City Airport and many local residents began flying lessons.
In 1985 a group of citizens and the city fought to lower the cost of telephone service to the metropolitan Kansas City area. Residents were paying $8 more per month than Blue Springs residents for the same service.
To meet the ever-increasing population a 1985 school bond issue added classrooms at Matthew Elementary and increase the size of the cafeteria at the middle school, junior high and high school.
In 1988 the school purchased nearly 60 acres on AA Highway (now Eagles Parkway) from Steve and Debbie Gildehaus for $142,000. Don’t you wonder what that same land would cost today.
Remember the acid leak from the railroad tanker car in April of 1985. Thirty-five homes were evacuated and the airport was closed until the acid could be cleaned up.
In 1988 we almost got a weather station on Monkey Mountain. Not everyone was in favor! The weather station was built in Pleasant Hill.
Of course, the Valley News always carried lots of high school sports. 1986 was an outstanding football season. We lost the Class 2A district title to Penney High School in Hamilton, MO.
But I think my favorite story had to be, “New Neighbors Create a Stink in Grain Valley.”
The story appeared in August of 1988. It appears that seeking food, a number of skunks had come to town. The subject was brought up and discussed by Winona Burgess, Ward 1 councilwoman at the monthly meeting. The city administrator sought advice from the Missouri Department of Conservation. It was decided that the homeowner would have to take care of the problem themselves. However, it was announced that skunks do not like to get their feet dirty. Therefore a mixture of roofing tar and creosote would discourage the skunks and once they left your property you should “plug up the holes in your foundations and sheds.”
Next Week: The Pointe
Visit the Grain Valley Historical Society at 506 S. Main on Wednesdays or visit us online at ww.grainvalleyhistory.com and Facebook (@grainvalleyhistory).